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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing Your Own Curriculum

Now that I'm back to writing and compiling my own curriculum for the pods, I thought I would let you in on the process.  How does one create a curriculum?  Here's how I do it.

Make a plan. Sit down by yourself and write what you would most like your children to know. Then, consult with your husband about things that are really important to him. After you have come up with those things that, as parents, you feel are most vital, sit down with each child individually. Ask them what they would like to learn. Kindly explain the things that YOU, his parents, feel are the most important. Make exchanges, "We will learn more about dinosaurs and airplanes because that is important to you. Would you be willing to learn some things that Dad and I feel are really important (like penmanship or spelling or math)?" Usually, when they are given the option to be involved in the planning, they are more willing to give and take.

Then, I take these interviews and we make a list. At some times and with some kids it is easy to compile a list of goals. At other times, we have to struggle together to decide on a direction. We make quarterly goals and try to cover many areas. A list may look like this:

  • Learn to write my name and the names of everyone in the family
  • Master the letter sounds
  • Learn more about dinosaurs
  • Go on a field trip to find fossils (or go to a museum to see some)
  • Memorize five scriptures
  • Clean my room every morning before breakfast
  • Learn the names of all the continents, major oceans and hemispheres
  • Count by two's to twenty

or something. I just made that up, but could be about right for a kindergartener. If we get stuck, I might say, "We have reading, writing, scriptures, helping around the house . . . what about learning some things in the kitchen?" To which you and the child can come up with a plan to learn some things in the kitchen.

  • Learn to make toast, crack eggs and do simple kitchen measurements (one cup, one teaspoon)

"You know, we don't have anything on here for exercise. What kind of exercise goal would you like to make to keep your body healthy?"

  • Ride my bike every day for at least one hour

And so on until you both feel like you have a well-rounded, interesting outline for the next three or four months. You can then create that curriculum based upon the list you compiled together. You won't need to force because he had a hand in choosing what would be studied. If he decides after one month that he's had enough of dinosaurs, change it up. Do not force yourselves to be bound by this list. It is only a guide.

How do you do this with more than one kid? Well, you make a list like this for each child. You do the things that are important to him, but you will find the lists meld quite easily. It is fun to change up the lessons to make them harder for the older child and easier for the younger. If you are learning about reading a thermometer, you might just teach the younger child how to read the mercury. He will lose interest and run off and you can teach the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit, where those names were derived, do labs and measure cold water, hot water, boiling water, cooking candy, the freezer, etc. You can do the math and figure out how to figure the C if you only have the degree in F. See how this becomes fun family time? Also, you don't really understand something until you are able to teach it. That goes for the kids, too. If your older child can teach something to the younger, he really understands it--and it cements itself in his memory better than if he had just done a worksheet on the topic.

Finally, be an interesting teacher by teaching things that are interesting to you.  Make sure that you get your own study time in. It is HARD to find that time for yourself, but it is most vital. I have friends who do this and friends who don't and you can tell, really tell, in the education of their children. I think it is mostly due to example and to the fact that you are loving your own learning. It makes you excited to teach them what you are learning. And an excited, passionate teacher is contagious to their students.

You can do it!  After having done it for six years and then letting someone else do it for two months, I will never go back.  A personalized approach is, I think, the most effective way to learn.


Jenna October 28, 2010 at 6:51 PM  

Go Mothership! You are the best teacher for your kids. I am happy you know it & are acting on it.

Baden Fox November 17, 2010 at 9:54 PM  

Thanks for this post Emily! I am finally getting around to planning this years homeschool. We moved and had a baby (literally on the same day) 2 months ago and we have been flying by the seat of our pants with homeschool since then because I can't seem to find a few hours to sit down and MAKE A PLAN! I love your blog, I read it all the time. I am amazed at all you do- what lucky lucky kids you have!!
Mary Ellen Fox

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